The Daily Drivers: 2015 Subaru WRX STI
Appearance: For 2015, the WRX STI comes only in a sedan, which grows slightly and looks ready to pounce. The car has a bold front end with squinting headlights and muscular fenders. And, of course, there's the cartoonish wing, which is almost big enough to invoke the Road Runner Superbird for those of us old enough to remember it. Our tester's paint was the catch-me-if-you-can Lightning Red Metallic, which really stands out in traffic — so watch your speed.
Performance: The engine remains unchanged — a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder "boxer" rated at 305 horsepower. But what Subaru did improve is the STI's handling. They stiffened the chassis and retuned the suspension and the all-wheel-drive's torque-vectoring system. What does all that gearhead jargon mean? Lyra sums it up this way: "The car just seems to get better the more you push it." The quick-ratio hydraulic power steering is extremely precise, and the AWD helps keep the car planted. This all makes for responsive handling that's usually reserved for two-seat sports cars. The downside to this performance: The ride is stiff and you will feel every bump in the road, which can be tiresome in daily driving. The STI comes only with a 6-speed manual and the clutch is stiff, which can make it difficult to find the proper balance with the accelerator when starting off in first gear. (Once mastered, the takeoff can be seat-plastering.) Drivers can choose from three driving modes with the Subaru Intelligent Drive. (SI-Drive): Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp. The WRX STI also has an adjustable center differential to tweak traction.